How do you decide what to do next? How do you make a decision? My family has a simple question that we ask to make complex decisions and I’m sharing it with you today.
I want to talk about how you decide ANYthing in your business (or life) and a quick question I use to make better decisions.
I’m not even going to make you wait, here is the question to ask yourself: Hard now or hard later?
Over the years of making decisions together, from do we want to get pizza delivered or make dinner, to should we buy a new or used car, to should we rent or buy…my husband and I have realized that making decisions is it’s own skill set. To make decisions together, we need to be on the same page about what matters, what our values are, and where we’re going as a family.
And there are a lot of ways to make bad decisions! If you just look at the short-term effect of the decision, if you look at what’s gratifying RIGHT NOW, if you make a decision based on a value that’s not really your own…you end up with a not-great result. Sometimes it doesn’t really matter (should we have ordered that pizza), but sometimes your whole future can turn on a few decisions.
But this is not a marriage advice podcast (maybe I’ll start that next?) this is a handmade business podcast! You make decisions every single day in your business, and I know it is so easy to get stuck wondering “what is the right decision? Does this even matter?”
Here’s what you can do to cut through all the stuckness and get right to what matters: Hard now or hard later?
What this means is: Is there a way to make this decision that may be hard now, but will make life easier later? Or if I choose the easier path now, will it make more difficult later?
As an example, let’s look at a decision a lot of us made in our 20s – If I’ve got no money, but I want a pizza or to go out with my friends…should I just get it on a credit card or should I not go out and eat what I have at home? Most of us know that the easier decision is to order a pizza, but we could be paying interest charges on that one pizza for months – it will make the future harder. Or we could make the less fun decision now and have an easier future (with no debt!)
A lot of people are raised to (and parts of our culture encourages us to) make the easy decision now and let your future self deal with it. There’s even a stand up comedian who jokes about making life harder for your Future Self. Screw that guy, let him deal with it!
So this question – do I want to do the hard thing now or suffer the worse consequences later?
Another way to ask the question is: fun now or fun later?
Do I want to have short-term fun now, and pay for it later? Or make a hard decision now to make it more fun later?
Now, this may not be the question you need. When I was talking about this on a Live in my Facebook group, my friend and life coach Joeli made the point that a lot of people in our community have this misunderstanding that life is “supposed” to be hard. That work is “supposed to be” hard. So they make things hard that don’t have to be hard. I totally know what she means because I see it all the time, this mistrust that things can be easy, work can be filled with ease.
So if that’s you, if you think everything has to be hard, let me flip this question around for you. Next time you make a decision ask yourself: What can I do now to set my Future Self up for success? And how can I make it full of ease and fun?
I used a financial decision as an example, but this can apply to so many thing in your business:
- Do I want to take the time to schedule my social media for the next two weeks or do I want to have to deal with it every day?
- Do I want to figure out my numbers and profitability now, or suffer the consequences of selling items at a price that doesn’t actually make sense?
- Do I want to take the time to identify my market and shape my marketing message or keep trying to do it on the fly and getting more frustrated and disappointed when marketing doesn’t work?
Do I want to confront this problem now (with a supplier, a customer, a friend) or do I want to leave it alone and have a bigger blow-up later?
And if you, like me, are still practicing social distancing or quarantine right now, we’re not out of the decision-making loop. Do I want to give my kids another hour of TV and deal with them bouncing off the walls later? Do I want to mindlessly scroll Twitter now and feel unproductive and stressed later?
Remember, sometimes you need to choose the easy thing. Sometimes you need the rest, sometimes you need to zone out. But the key to building a sustainable business is to give yourself what you need, while still honoring and taking care of your Future Self.